Bits 'n' Pieces: Tradition plants seeds in Vancouver

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photoJay "Bird" Koder

A 20-plus year holiday tradition is moving across the Columbia River as Jay "Bird" Koder brings his Christmas concert to Vancouver's Crossroads Community Church on Sunday.

For years, the event was part of the Grotto's Festival of Lights in Portland.

"We're looking to build a new tradition here (in Vancouver). And (the church is) a large enough venue to where the event can grow with time. I'm really excited to just plant the seeds for it," Koder said.

In some ways, it's a homecoming for the Vancouver native. Koder's first public performance was at age 9 in his church, and by 15, he was performing with the Oregon Symphony. The Hudson's Bay High School alumnus plays anything with strings, from guitar to sitar.

The biggest driving force behind the Christmas concert is "feeling the need to contribute," Koder said.

The performance will benefit Love Now, a Crossroads outreach program that works with children in Africa, especially in Johannesburg, South Africa.

"All the proceeds go towards the kids. The program is well-organized and innovative," he said, explaining that Love Now was one of the first programs to offer a drinking straw that filters clean water from mud puddles.

Sunday's concert will feature traditional and modern Christmas tunes, with performances by a local children's choir, pianist Jason Ritchie, bassist Daniel Fusco and vocalist Ryan Hurley. "And some last minute surprises we're working on," Koder said.

Christmas Comes Alive begins 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the church, 7708 N.E. 78th St. Tickets are $6, $20 for families. Visit Crossroads Community Church or Ticket Tomato.

— Ashley Swanson

Bits 'n' Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you'd like to share, email bits@columbian.com.